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Canon 6D Wedding Photography

This full frame sensor is a stunner!

That’s right we shoot the Canon 6D exclusively, in fact our studio currently owns three of them and we are under deliberation of adding a fourth.  The camera is exactly what we need as wedding photographers, plain and simple. The marketing surrounding the camera’s release sold it as a travel companion for the professional photographer.  Why?  Well, due to its lack of bells and whistles, its more compact size, GPS and of course primitive focusing system. However, if you spent any time shooting the Canon 5d Mark II you will feel right at home here.  In fact the focusing screens from our 5d IIs worked in our newer 6D flawlessly.  As far as we are concerned we got the 5d Mark III we really wanted without its bloated price in the 6D and we just love it to pieces!

If you are unfamiliar with the 5D’s history, here is a little backstory.  Canon’s 5D is considered the must have for most professional Canon photographers, with of course the 1DX being for the most elite.  The 5D and 5D II both shared a similar price point and most pros gravitate to this camera with its healthy feature set and median cost for a professional rig. However, Canon had created a monster with their new autofocus system and chose to incorporate it into their new 5D III reincarnation which would be released for Canon’s 75th birthday.  Canon got its cake and got to eat it too, with its huge cost increase of almost 30%!   This left a lot of pros in limbo…

However, for us it was simply too expensive to justify making the investment and we stalled in upgrading. We weren’t interested in spending $3399 on Canon’s latest and greatest, to just hack it up to get focus screens that we’ve become so accustomed to.  Fortunately for us, Canon had another trick up its sleeve.  Later that same year the 6D was announced and released just in time for the holiday season.  Sure enough, santa had a very special gift in store for one very good boy!   Let’s say this was just what the doctor ordered to cure the 5D Mark III blues! With its Digic 5+ processor and full frame sensor this camera delivered the goods of a much more qualified top performing camera.  The 6D currently sells at $1899 and the 5D IIIs at a staggering $3399.  For us that math is easy.

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Why we own three of them.

Well of course we never want to arrive at a wedding or any live event without a backup.  That is certainly not the only reason though. For the money, it’s an incredible performer.  The camera sports only eleven focusing points, however the center point can get focus at up to -3ev.  What does this give us?  A simple focusing system that can practically attain focus in the dark.   In addition the focusing screens are very easy to change and require 5 minutes to be modified by anyone! But what matters most for us is at the heart of this camera.  Beating steady and true is a full frame sensor paired with a very capable Digic 5+ processor that can render scenes to near perfection.  The color and brightness it captures is nothing short of remarkable and comes awfully close to Canon’s top gun. If you jump over to dxomark the  lab tests results are available comparing it to Canon’s top performing cameras.  This camera seems to suffer from a Napoleon Complex, and like the great conquerer this little guy means business.  Pair this camera with Canon’s 85mm 1.2L II and you can create portraits that are sure to wonder and amaze!

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Autofocus

One of the 6D’s weaknesses for some might be its rather elementary focusing system.  In stark comparison to the 5D or 7D its rather rudimentary 11 focusing points could almost seem archaic to many modern photographers.  However, for us as wedding photographers we can keep up with the action well enough.  Weddings can be very fast-paced and focusing on people walking towards and away from you during the recessional and processional can make these newer focusing systems a major benefit to your exposures.  With our 6D however we tend to shoot lots of exposures during these action moments, which allows us to rest easy that we got at least a single very sharp shot to deliver our clients. However, the cervo on this camera is capable enough and we use the focus/recompose method as our primary focusing method once things settle down.  If you worry about missing shots due to focusing or you are considering a camera for any other fast paced photography this is probably not the camera for you. However, it your bread and butter is portrait photography or landscapes this is the camera for you!  As wedding photographers we feel these cameras can get it done, but if you currently rely on selecting your focusing points you may find using this camera cumbersome.  Consider the 5D or 7D as they might be better suited.

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Single memory card slot.

This could also be a deal breaker for a lot of professional photographers.  The single card slot can become a caveat when considering your memory card strategy.  We always have at least two shooters and one of the shooters is always shooting with two bodies simutaniously. With three cameras containing different cards recording moments of the day gives us redundancy and a contingency plan. This, in conjunction with implementing an effective memory card strategy, guarantees  that this single card slot isn’t an issue at all.  However, if you shoot your live events alone and need the peace of mind of two card slots recording simultaneously – by all means consider the 5D or 7D alternatives.  Their built in redundancy could save your career.

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Pros:

Incredible price point, thanks Canon!

Full Frame Sensor

Small and compact for a pro camera

Great build, all of ours still work after hitting the ground!

Cons:

Single card slot

Basic Autofocus System

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ISO performance and a rant about standards.

Whenever we purchase a new camera for our studio, we run what we affectionally refer to as the lens cap challenge to asses the sensor’s ISO strengths and weaknesses.  This test is relatively simple and only requires a camera and Lightroom (or whatever post processor you use).   To conduct this test simply take an exposure with the lens cap securely fastened at each ISO interval available. Once all these images are imported into Lightroom crank up the exposure slider until the ISO grain starts to colorize and reveal its patterns (probably 4 to 5 full stops). More pink = more noise.  You now have a blueprint of the ISO noise that will be imprinted on every picture you take at each given ISO level. In our studio we evaluate each new camera with this test to help us dictate our specific boundaries and preferred settings. Thanks to Canon’s incredible research and development teams, respectable leaps are achieved with every new sensor released and the 6D wedding photography impresses!

So let’s get into the controversy and confusion around Canon performance and ISO standards.  The ISO numbers we are so accustom to today were dictated to the entire photography industry by the International Standard Organization or ISO.  The natives of course are 100, 200, 400, 800, etc.  Which is still the case here, even amongst the confusion of the photography community.  Tests like this one cause uproar due to some of the wild results.   It’s vital to note that this sensor performs with slightly less ISO noise at 160, 320, 640, 1250, etc, which you can clearly see in these results. If you compare the 125 slide to the 1250 slide the results are quite staggering! This undoubtedly confuses, but the reason isn’t that Canon circumvented the ISO standard and created its own new standard with difficult to remember numbers, but rather the camera is applying its own digital secret sauce to clean up noise of the native ISO.  This digital pull doesn’t come without tradeoffs though.  Dynamic range will be lost.  For our studio ISO noise makes our skin itch and we gladly accept the compromise.

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Our take on cameras and their cost.

Every business has economic realities and for us this camera just makes good dollars and cents.  We tend to view cameras in the same vien as computers, they are very high tech machines that require the latest processors, sensors and features to work effectively.  But, due to the simple fact that they wear out we prefer to purchase good cameras that fit the bill, rather than breaking the bank.  Shiny tempting upgrades tend to be hitting the market with feverish frequency, thanks to the arms race between Canon and Nikon.  As professional photographers we are constantly barraged with new features and improved performance at higher and higher costs. However, for us and our studio we choose this platform over and over again and we will shoot all of ours until they click no more.

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Feature wish list & final thoughts.

Our only wish for Saint Mark is very small should he feel inclined to answer our prayers!  We would simply ask to add WI-FI internet time sync.  As wedding photographers shooting lots of different cameras we have to manually sync our camera’s clocks before every big day due to time drift.  We could eliminate this step (that we often overlook) for good with a simple firmware update.  Please Saint Mark deliver us from the evils of time drift!

Canon created an awesome camera that has reached immediate cult-like status.  With its simple feature set, insane performance and meager price tag it has taken over our entire studio and we can’t recommend it enough!  Having the ability to quickly and easily change focusing screens makes seeing f1.4 DOF through the view finder a sharp reality.  If you rely on a split focusing screens for your manual focus lens you can also rest easy knowing they are available by third parties as well.  The full frame sensor is a stunner that competes with Canon’s top camera bodies.  You will have a difficult time trying to find better quality amongst the two with an identical lens out of the 5D III sensor side by side.  You can never have too much of a good thing!  We might already have triplets, but we are considering adopting more!

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More Resources

Are you interested in learning more about this camera? There are lots of great, useful resources all over the web to help us photographers achieve our photographic dreams! We have included some of the articles and resources that were helpful for us when researching our own gear purchase.

Canon Official – 6D Official Tech Specs

Dustin Abbott’s Excellent 6d – 5dII Comparison 

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